Variants of concern now main risk – update from our Primary Care Network 10 May 2021

As we head into summer, it is great news that community rates of Covid-19 remain low locally, although a cluster of cases on a farm has pushed up the numbers in the county recently.

While the latest lockdown has helped tackle the surge of cases over winter, locking down does come at a high social as well as economic cost. Not being able to catch up with family and friends has been hard on all of us. People are struggling with the effects of isolation, and in particular it has affected those with cognitive impairments such as dementia.

Photo: Molly Basten’s entry in the ‘NHS’ category of the Ross in Lockdown photo competition 2020

With case rates low, now is the perfect time to catch up with people. Outdoor spread is rare, and the successful delivery of the NHS vaccination program means that people are far more protected now than we have been. We are fortunate to have access to some wonderful green spaces locally, where we can safely spend time with others. Exercise and activity protect us against getting unwell from Covid, while sunshine on our skin helps create vitamin D, which is important for a healthy immune system.

The World Health Organisation have finally accepted that Covid can be spread by airborne routes. While hand hygiene is important, good ventilation and face coverings indoors or when close to others are crucial to preventing transmission.

Dr Simon Lennane, GP Alton Street Surgery and Clinical Director, Primary Care Network, South & West Herefordshire

The main risk now is new ‘Variants of Concern‘. High case rates in other countries allow the virus to mutate, and the worry is that the change may make our current vaccines less effective. The lack of monitoring for people coming from high risk countries has left us susceptible to these new variants, and we should be learning from those countries that have aimed for and managed a zero-Covid approach.

Health services are busier than ever. Local GP surgeries have run the vaccine program on top of our day jobs, with great support from volunteers in Ross, but we now have a year’s backlog to get through. We are very aware that health services are overloaded at present, but we are working as hard as possible to get things back to normal and are grateful for your support and understanding.

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